Required Documents for Re-entry
I-20 Travel Signature
F-1 visa students will need a travel signature from the International Student Center on their I-20 in order to return to the U.S. from travel outside of the country. If you do not have a travel signature on your I-20, you will be stopped at the U.S. Port of Entry. A signature on the I-20 is not needed for travel within the United States.
Travel signatures are only given to students who are maintaining their F-1 status; students who are out of status are not eligible for travel signatures.
Please note that it takes 5 days to process a travel signature request at the International Student Office; please plan accordingly.
There are no same day signatures!
To re-enter the US, F-1 visa students must carry the following documents:
1. Valid passport (unexpired for at least 6 months)
2. Valid F-1 visa (except students from Canada)
3. Valid I-20 with recent travel signature
4. OPT students: Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card
F-1 Visa Renewal
Your F-1 visa must be valid in order for you to return to the United States; please check the expiration date on your F-1 visa before traveling. You must obtain documentation verifying your status from the International Student Center to renew your F-1 visa. Specifically you will need a travel signature on your I-20, an official (sealed in an envelope) transcript from IVC and a letter indicating your current status at the college. You are advised to check the U.S. embassy website to determine what other documents you will need to submit for the visa renewal.
Travel to Canada, Mexico and Adjacent Islands
A student in F-1 visa status can re-enter the U.S. from Canada, Mexico and "adjacent islands" (except Cuba) with an expired nonimmigrant visa. This is known as Automatic Revalidation. Students cannot exceed 30 days outside the United States and the I-20 must have a recent signature.
IMPORTANT: Students must have a printout of their I-94 Arrival/Departure record when leaving the U.S. to successfully re-enter the U.S.
Citizens of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, North Korea and Cuba are not eligible for the automatic revalidation benefit and are required to have a valid visa for re-entry.
Students traveling to Mexico or the Caribbean by cruise ship must contact the cruise line before making travel arrangements to confirm they will recognize automatic revalidation and allow them to travel outside the U.S. without a valid F-1 visa.
The adjacent islands include: Saint Pierre, Miquelon, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, the Windward and Leeward Islands, Trinidad, Martinique, and other British, French, and Netherlands territory or possessions in or bordering on the Caribbean Sea. [Reference INA, Section 101(b)(5)].
Traveling to Other Countries:
Always check the visa requirements for the country you are traveling to before making any travel arrangements. A visa may be required to enter certain countries depending on your country of citizenship. Visit https://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-in/united-states for a list of foreign embassies and consulates in the U.S.